Directed by Jon M. Chu
Much like its predecessor, this is a film with an inane plot that is near impossible to follow for the entire movie. Suspension of belief is a must to even think about watching this; though a suspension of thinking full stop would be ideal. This is pure escapist entertainment, though this sequel is not in the same time-zone as the original when it comes to entertainment, interesting magic tricks or action set-pieces. And it also really pushes that requirement of throwing logic out the window to such an extent that it not only flies out the window, it plummets to the ground at terminal velocity.
It can’t help that the original director isn’t a part of the project either.
The story here is somehow simpler that the original while also more nonsensical, with a globe-trotting story that just happens to include China, the biggest market for this sort of mindless entertainment.
Dollar dollar bills, y’all!
Every character returns, except for Isla Fisher, whose character’s absence is literally explained away with a single line. She is replaced by Lizzy Caplan, who does her best to inject some humour into proceedings and fits in well with the other three. But none of the original three characters have changed much, if at all; they are still two dimensional puppets who may or may not actually have supernatural powers.
The simple premise of the film is that this time around, after re-emerging from hiding for a performance, The Four Horsemen themselves are tricked, and somehow end up in China, where they are eventually forced to attempt a high-risk heist by villain Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe, of all people), who is after a key that can unlock any computer in the world. That is it. This really has to be the laziest writing of a McGuffin that I have ever come across.
Some of the tricks performed here are so ridiculous it is hard not to laugh at them, with Jesse Eisenberg’s character at one point freezing the rain from falling and then sending it upwards. It seems like magic, and is mildly entertaining, until the trick is ‘explained’. It is again hard not to laugh at the absurdity of this ‘explanation’.
People who know me probably know that I am the last person to pick holes in plots. Hell, I loved High-Rise, as it had so much to offer, so many layers to its story. This film however is too blunt, too ridiculous and too shallow to be anything more than mindless entertainment. If however you do want to pick holes in the plot, be ready for a migraine.
I must though give credit to one decent set-piece – despite its ridiculousness and implausibility, it is fun to watch and is exceptionally captured by the DP. There is also another great but brief action sequence involving Ruffalo eluding some Chinese villains. Other than these two scenes though, there isn’t much to be found when it comes to action.
There are some nice sleight of hand tricks that the actors have learnt here, which is fun to watch. But the big tricks they pull off insult the viewer’s intelligence, while explaining how the simpler tricks work take away any impact they may have had. The chemistry that was apparent in the original movie has lost a lot of its sparkle, as there is no real rivalry amongst the four, just talk, talk, talk. While the acting is fantastic individually, as a whole it is extremely underwhelming despite the ensemble cast. Much like Lionel Shrike, and most sequels if we are being honest here, this film belongs at the bottom of a river, locked in a safe.
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